A dog shot, then dragged behind a vehicle; cats and kittens found with their limbs broken; twelve dogs found starving; two dogs tortured and then burned; a kitten cooked to death in an oven; over 800 captive pigs left to starve in the cold on a Pennsylvania factory farm when their owner abandoned the premises, with no one to come to their rescue until it was too late.  If that isn’t enough to make us sit up, I can continue. . .systematic and pointless torture of animals in laboratories; factory farmed animals literally dying piece by piece while going through the processing line, after living in miserable, inhumane conditions since birth; dogs and cats being beaten and butchered alive in S. Korea for their meat; reptiles and other animals being skinned alive for their skins. . .and on it goes.  Somehow this doesn’t seem to be what was intended for humans to perpetuate or condone when we were given stewardship over other creatures.

At one time, we found it perfectly acceptable to burn “witches” at the stake, force human beings into slavery, and withhold the right to vote from women. However, society evolved and changes were enacted to respect human beings and their rights.  Why is it that we cannot seem to extend that same compassion to other species, especially those who have no voice or protection?  Worse, many people will refuse to read or learn about the issues involving neglect and cruelty to animals because it “upsets” them.  If it upsets them, imagine what the animals are going through!  The epitome of ignorance is refusing to learn or hear the truth.  The epitome of callousness is knowing the truth, yet refusing to do something about it.

It is disturbing that people continue to commit the most brutal acts of abuse, neglect, and murder of animals each year by beating, burning, torturing, sexually abusing, impaling, crushing, breaking limbs; or contributing to these actions by way of their consumer choices.  Whether we commit these acts ourselves or pay others to do it, we are complicit.

Research has proven that those who are capable of intentional cruelty are exhibiting the most serious signs of psychological problems that have been linked with sociopathic behavior.  The link between the abuse of animals and human violence has been made time and time again.  

Currently, 47 states have a felony provision in their animal cruelty statutes, thanks to the hard work of various animal welfare groups.  But that’s not enough.  It is up to each of us as citizens of planet Earth to make sure that the laws are enforced, and that knowledge about global animal exploitation issues is shared so as to raise awareness and to work towards a more compassionate society where life is respected.  It’s up to each of us to demand that our government do its job to seek justice for animals where due, to compel truth in advertising from fashion industries who lie about how animal skins are actually obtained or used, and to compel agri-business to keep from hiding the truth from consumers about what is occurring on factory farms and what is actually in animal-derived products (growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, arsenic, dioxins, herbicides. . .and poop).

As my esteemed friend, Professor Tom Regan (author of “The Animal Rights Debate”) so accurately puts it, “In a democracy like ours, the will of the majority (usually) is where the power is.  That’s our challenge: to make animal rights the perspective of the majority. All of us — you and I — will be needed to make this happen.”

On a moral scale, killing/abusing other beings is an act of exploitation and violence; we must ask ourselves if any being deserves to be tortured or killed to satisfy our taste buds, vanity, or need for amusement.  Many good folks, raised in our present culture, simply haven’t given much thought to how society envisions and treats animals.  Fortunately, a shift is occurring that has been bringing this issue to the forefront, compelling many of us to address it and make our personal choices in alignment with what we value.

It is my hope that 2013 begins an era of exponentially increased awareness and positive action on behalf of those who depend upon us to protect them.  We can create a more compassionate society and future generation by our present actions.  What other more significant legacy could we possibly leave behind to speak for our short existence in this life?  

There are many groups doing wonderful work that benefits animals all over the world, from companion animals in your own neighborhood to wildlife on other continents.  These organizations can always use our help and support in order to do their jobs and make them even more effective.  If you can’t afford to offer financial support, your voice or pen are just as important.  We can let these dedicated groups know that we have their backs and are willing to do what we can to further their efforts.  Lives are depending upon us, EACH and EVERY ONE of us.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Happy and compassionate New Year to all, a little belatedly.

Below are a few links to animal welfare organizations with a great track record.

www.hsus.org

www.PETA.org

www.PCRM.org

www.ida-usa.org

www.bornfreeusa.org

www.mercyforanimals.org

www.aldf.org

– Annoula Wylderich

Advertisements